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Gender: Do not display
Current location: Virginia
Member since: Wed Jun 1, 2011, 07:34 PM
Number of posts: 5,743

About Me

Navy brat-->University fac brat. All over-->Wisconsin-->TN-->VA. RN (ret), married, grandmother of 11. Progressive since birth. My mouth may be foul but my heart is wide open.

Journal Archives

Meet the Sword-Wielding Grandmother Bringing Women Back to Indian Martial Arts

CLAD IN A RED SARI with a gold border, Meenakshi Raghavan wields a sword and a shield. The petite woman assumes a formidable stance and matches each strike from her opponent—twice her size and less than half her age—with an alert ferocity that reflects in her eyes. Meenakshi Amma, as her family and disciples fondly call her, is at the “kalari,” or arena, in Vadakara, a small town in northern Kerala, India, training her students the moves of the martial art of kalaripayattu. One disciple, as her students are known, swings his sword through the air but Meenakshi Amma suddenly twists on the mud floor dodging the attack and counter striking, taking her disciple by surprise.

Everything about Meenakshi Amma is a surprise. At 81 years of age, Meenakshi Amma is the oldest woman “gurukkal,” or teacher, actively practicing this ancient practice from the southern Indian state of Kerala. She is credited in popularizing the once-banned practice and with inspiring women—long excluded from the kalari—to take up the martial art as means to self-defense.

Derived from the Sanskrit word “khalurika” meaning battlefield or military training ground, kalaripayattu—or simply, payattu—dates back thousands of years and was traditionally practiced by the Nair community warriors of Kerala. Yoga postures paired with wooden sticks, metal blades and bare-hand combat techniques make it one of the more complex martial arts. “Kalaripayattu is a complete art form that has the grace of a dancer and lethal moves of a warrior. It synchronizes both mental and physical faculties and tests the extreme limits of the body and mind.’ says Meenakshi Amma.

For centuries kalarippayattu was deeply ingrained in the culture of Kerala, according to the late historian and Kalaripayattu master, Chirakkal T. Sreedharan Nair. It was both a mode of warfare and a method of settling disputes between feuding families. Throughout this time, women trained along with men. Some, such as Unniyarcha, identified as a 16th-century woman warrior, became fixtures in the folklore of Kerala.


New online campaign reminds us that street harassment isn't a rite of passage. It's a public health

New online campaign reminds us that street harassment isn't a rite of passage. It's a public health concern.

Biking down the street or riding the bus in Los Angeles, Candice Cho isn't doing anything particularly unusual — stranger things happen on the streets of Hollywood every day. And yet her existence as an Asian woman is enough for many to unleash swarms of verbal, often racist abuse. "Hey Mulan!" one man shouted at her while biking. "Konnichiwa! Tokyo!" another yelled at her repeatedly as she waited 30 minutes for public transportation.

Such experiences are unfortunately common for many women, especially women of color, and also deeply relevant to Cho's work. She's the managing director of policy and counsel at AAPI Equity Alliance, a Los Angeles–based coalition of AAPI community organizations campaigning for equitable policy and services for community members across the country.

Cho's story is just one representation of a diverse array of tales shared through the #SaferPlace social media campaign, a new effort by advocates to document the frequent harassment that women, people of color, and LGBT and gender nonconforming people face in public spaces. As May is Asian and Pacific Islander (API) Heritage Month, the social media effort adds a sense of heightened, nuanced awareness of the intersectional public safety issues faced by members of these diverse communities.

"Street harassment may not be violent, but it's still traumatic. It still impacts how safe we feel, our mental health, how free we feel to move and to care for ourselves and our loved ones. These different facets of hate need to be treated seriously," Cho said.

The campaign is making a larger case for re-contextualizing street harassment as a public health issue, similar to the way our understanding of common tobacco use or car seatbelts evolved over time as public safety concerns regulated by the government, the organizers explained. Yamuna Hopwood is the communications manager for Chinese for Affirmative Action, a progressive advocacy group championing immigrant rights, language diversity, and racial and social justice advocacy. She's helping lead the social campaign. "We kicked off the campaign with a simple question," she says. "We were asking, 'What would a safer, more accessible place mean, for you?' And not just AAPI individuals, but everyone — Black and brown folks, LGBTQIA folks, disabled folks, anyone who struggles with street harassment or the fear of street harassment." Hundreds of people responded with their experience, fears, and hopes for safer public spaces under the #SaferPlace hashtag across social media.

This is actually important to all WOMEN as well.

'We hurt those already hurting': why Los Angeles is failing on homelessness

Last month, the top official charged with addressing homelessness in Los Angeles announced her surprise departure, offering a scathing message on her way out: the crisis is “a monster of our own making”, she wrote in her resignation letter. “Those in power who possess the ability to change the lives of more than 60,000 unhoused Angelenos must be willing to do so.”

Heidi Marston’s public comments about her decision to leave the Los Angeles homeless services authority (Lahsa) offer a rare look from an insider at the systemic problems that have prevented major metropolitan regions like LA from adopting the rapid, large-scale and humane response that the emergency demands.

Marston’s exit comes as Los Angeles is home to an estimated 66,000 unhoused people and accounts for 20% of all Americans living outside. More than five unhoused Angelenos are dying every day. Local residents are falling into homelessness faster than the unhoused are moving indoors. Large tent communities are growing on city streets and in parks.

The crisis in LA and in California has reached record proportions, but severe inequality is a growing problem in many US metropolitan regions. LA’s broken system, experts say, mirrors the failures of cities across America to help their most vulnerable residents.


'I cannot survive on $260 a week': US retail and fast-food workers strike

Workers in America’s fast-food and retail sectors who worked on the frontlines through the dangers of the Covid-19 pandemic are continuing a trend of strikes and protests over low wages, safety concerns and sexual harassment issues on the job.

The Covid-19 pandemic has incited a resurgence of interest and support for the US labor movement and for low-wage workers who bore the brunt of Covid-19 risks.

The unrest also comes as corporations have often reported record profits and showered executives with pay increases, stock buybacks and bonuses, while workers received minimal pay increases. Workers at billion-dollar corporations from Dollar General to McDonald’s still make on average less than $15 an hour while often being forced to work in unsafe, grueling conditions.

On 2 May, Dollar General workers at a store in Marion, North Carolina, walked off the job over low wages.

Ashley Sierra has worked at Dollar General for two years and makes just $11 an hour, while only receiving part-time hours. A mother of three, she relies on family members to barely make ends meet. “My weekly paycheck is no more than $200, $260 at the max. I have three children, I cannot survive on $260 a week, it’s just not working. It needs to get upped to at least $15 an hour, the bottom is $15, because we work so hard for so little,” said Sierra.

Dollar General reported a profit of $3.2bn and their CEO was paid over $16.4m in 2021, 986 times the median pay of the company’s workers.

Sierra said the store was often understaffed and overstocked with items that block aisles, and that she feared for her safety over potential robberies and theft when she and just one other co-worker are working the entire store.


How North Korea Went from 'Zero COVID' to 1.2 Million Cases in 72 Hours

It took almost two and a half years for SARS-CoV-2 to travel from the Chinese city of Wuhan to the North Korean capital Pyongyang.

That’s according to the North Korean government, which until late last week had firmly denied any confirmed cases of the virus within their borders—a distinction that had made them one of only three countries worldwide to have remained uncontaminated by the pandemic to date.

But Thursday saw state media confirm that an “obscure febrile disease” had infected 350,000 people nationwide, in what experts believe is almost certainly an outbreak of COVID-19. Then, three days later, state media confirmed a total of more than 1.2 million people across the country reporting symptoms of a “fever.”

As of Sunday, 564,860 people are being treated for this “fever,” which appears to have been spreading explosively throughout North Korea since late April. At least 50 people are confirmed to have died, eight of them on Sunday alone, in what is almost certainly a gross underestimate of mortalities by local authorities. One expert told VICE World News last week he expects “mass death” to occur.

In the space of just 72 hours, North Korea’s epidemiological status has shifted from a self-proclaimed success story to a public health catastrophe. Given the so-called hermit kingdom’s notorious secrecy and extremely limited testing capacity, the exact case numbers are impossible to quantify, and these official figures almost certainly represent the low end of the scale.

This is a horror story. As Rachel says, watch this space.

A girl was abducted at a Mavs game and found 200 miles away being trafficked for sex

I don’t delve into the macabre often. I don’t even watch Law & Order. Thinking about monstrous people isn’t something I enjoy. I understand the obsession with true crime, but podcasts featuring tales of sex trafficking, torture, murder, and rape are the last thing I associate with relaxation.

There is a place to talk about crazy fucked up shit, and often sports ain’t it. Bring up a story about human trafficking at the Super Bowl in the run up to The Big Game and watch how many people fidget uncomfortably until they can talk about wide receiver matchups again.

A recent story out of the Southwest caught my eye because the headline was so alarming and attention grabbing, and I thought, hell, this is as good a time as any to bring attention to an awful aspect of our world.

A Texas family was reunited with their 15-year-old daughter after she left her seat to use the restroom at a Mavs game and never came back. The girl was located — with more help from a Houston-based human trafficking agency than law enforcement — 200 miles away as part of a sex-trafficking ring.

The girl’s father notified police at the game, who told him to call the police department where he lives in North Richland Hills. They told him they couldn’t help because the incident happened in Dallas, according to the story.

Missing persons reports were filed and time passed. The family wasn’t satisfied and reached out to the Texas Counter-Trafficking Initiative, who located a nude photo of the girl used for online sex advertisements through facial recognition software and notified Oklahoma City Police. The police then found the teen and arrested eight people in connection with the case.

This dad better sue the britches off the police at the game, who I assume were Dallas PD

Turn Pushers of This 'Anti-White' Conspiracy Theory Into Pariahs

Andy Craig

All ideas are not created equal.

Even the most ardent free speech supporter should be able to make the distinction between “censorship” and marginalizing the worst ideas as beyond the pale—and to make proponents of those ideas unwelcome in polite society.

The tragedy in Buffalo has once again turned attention to the rise of so-called “great replacement theory” on the right. As with previous white supremacist terrorists—from the 2019 Christchurch shooter to the 1995 Oklahoma City bomber, the killer was animated by a noxious brew of ideas centered around the claim that there is a deliberate plot to commit to genocide against white Americans—using non-white immigration as its supposed primary means.

Tucker Carlson, the most watched cable news host in the country, has repeatedly endorsed the basic tenets of replacement theory. He does not even shy away from using the term, denouncing “the replacement of legacy Americans with more obedient people from far away countries.”

Carlson’s allusions are heavily sanitized and rarely cross the line into explicitly racial terms, though they often tiptoe right up to the line—like when he said immigrants are making America “dirtier.” And unlike the much more extreme sources cited by radicalized terrorists, Carlson does not posit that the globalist elite plot to alter America’s demographics is being run by the Jews.

The much more proximate influences on white supremacist terrorists can be found in online communities of openly avowed neo-nazis. It is this material that fills the rambling manifestos of many of the deranged killers. The relationship between such fringe environments and the xenophobic political messages that are broadcast to much larger audiences should not be overstated.

But what are we to make of the mainstreaming of replacement theory and its relationship to individual acts of terrorism committed by radicalized extremists who buy into it? Is it cancel culture run amok to draw a line from those who promote replacement theory to the actions of these terrorists and their rambling manifestos?

No, it’s not.


Republicans Must Answer for 'Great Replacement Theory' Violence

Wajahat Ali

Republicans and the conservative media ecosystem have to answer for the blood on their hands.

Either through innuendo or direct statements, they continue to promote the white supremacist “great replacement theory” which has yet again radicalized a terrorist to commit violence against people of color. And they should be held accountable for their role in it.

We’re still learning more about Payton Gendron, the 18-year-old suspected terrorist who killed 10 people in a racially motivated attack in Buffalo. However, it’s clear from his alleged manifesto that “great replacement theory,” which is now a mainstream GOP talking point, continues to radicalize men to commit violence. And yet some Republican leaders and conservative pundits continue to promote this hate for sake of votes, profit, and ratings.

Enough is enough. Until Republican leaders and conservative media stars explicitly renounce this white supremacist conspiracy, condemn it, and disassociate from its peddlers, it’s fair to conclude they are entirely complicit with its message.

Journalists and reporters must repeatedly hound Republican officials with follow up questions about this national security threat. Recall that Democrats and President Joe Biden still are asked about “defunding the police,” even though it is not a mainstream DNC position, or about critical race theory (CRT) panic even after it was revealed to be a bad-faith trojan horse created by right-wing activists to incite racial panic and anxiety.


Judge blocks part of Alabama law criminalizing gender-affirming care for trans youth

A federal judge on Friday blocked part of an Alabama law that made it a felony to prescribe gender-affirming puberty blockers and hormones to transgender minors.

U.S. District Judge Liles Burke issued a preliminary injunction to stop the state from enforcing the medication ban, which took effect May 8, while a court challenge goes forward. The judge left in place other parts of the law that banned gender-affirming surgeries for transgender minors, which doctors had testified are not done on minors in Alabama. He also left in place a provision that requires counselors and other school officials to tell parents if a minor discloses that they think they are transgender.

The Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act made it a felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, to prescribe or administer gender-affirming medication to transgender minors to help affirm their new gender identity.

Burke ruled that Alabama had produced no credible evidence to show that transitioning medications are "experimental" while, "the uncontradicted record evidence is that at least twenty-two major medical associations in the United States endorse transitioning medications as well-established, evidence-based treatments for gender dysphoria in minors."

"Enjoining the Act upholds and reaffirms the ‘enduring American tradition’ that parents—not the states or federal courts—play the primary role in nurturing and caring for their children,” Burke wrote in the opinion.


This Morning at the Shelter, or, Attempted Jailbreak (long, but I'm still laughing)

This morning I went in to do my usual Friday shift among the strays as usual. Things are getting a little busier this time of year, with (usually) moms with kittens, or litters of kittens, or (sometimes) single kittens being brought in, not to mention the usual run of strays and surrenders that we get, although this morning we didn't have any moms with kittens. Did the usual walk-through with Natalie, who runs the stray jail, while she pointed out the potential troublemakers, flight risks, sickies, anyone needing samples to be run to the clinic, etc., plus some colorful backstories on a couple of the inmates. Everything went along in its usual fashion until I went down to the laundry/stockroom for more towels, cleaning rags, and gloves. I had to walk through food storage, which was stacked with bags of dog food where the delivery guy had dumped it on his usual Thursday delivery, leaving only a narrow path, and walking back through there, I nearly lost my full basket of stuff but didn't.

I got to the door of the stray jail and Natalie hollered, "Don't come in with that, there's a cat out. That orange guy." I knew which one she meant. It was the one on the back top row that she'd been suspicious of when we did our walk-through. She said at the time, "Cheyenne said he was nice in Intake, but it took both of us to wrestle him into a box so I could bring him down here." He'd gotten out when she opened his kennel door to clean and headed for a kennel full of kittens to pick a fight. I put the basket down blocking the door and edged my way in (fortunately I'm really small) to help in the capture.

Every time we thought we had him cornered, he went under something or around a corner. We blocked as much "under" as we could and kept trying to head him off, but he is a really smart guy and kept evading us. I tried treats but those didn't work. Then Natalie said, "Get the catnip!" The catnip is in a shaker jar like a spice jar. First I shook some into the carrier we were trying to chase him into, but he wasn't having that. Finally Natalie said "F--- this, I'm getting the feral net." We only use the net as a last resort, but we'd been chasing him for 10+ minutes by then. More catnip. We finally managed to corner him in a place where he just couldn't get away and there was already quite a lot of catnip on the floor. At that point he looked up at me and for some reason, I can't tell you why, I was inspired to just shake catnip down on him. He looked suddenly blissed out and at that moment Natalie snuck up behind him and netted him. Boy, was he PO'd! She carried him in the net back to his kennel and had me put more catnip on his mat before getting him out of the net (which was a job in itself) and slamming the door. We sat down on the floor and laughed ourselves silly.

While we were still laughing, the volunteer coordinator came in to ask us something, saw us laughing and wanted to know why, so we told her. Her only comment was "Why didn't somebody have a video camera?"
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